Saint Peter Church

A Ministry of the Capuchin Franciscans

Saint Mary Province,

New York and New England

Funeral Mass Guidelines

Welcome to this portion of our website.  We hope that these guidelines will help you understand and prepare for a funeral Mass.  This information is available in booklet form from area funeral homes and from the parish office.

 

We have listed the Old Testament and New Testament Readings from which one may choose.  Below the readings is information about music selections for a funeral Mass.  At the end of this page, you will find the Funeral Mass policies of the Diocese of Burlington regarding the Eulogy and use of the American Flag.

 

 Funeral Readings and Music

The funeral liturgy in the Catholic Church is a time for the family and friends of the deceased to gather with the larger church community for prayer and support. While there are many elements that lend focus and meaning to the Christian funeral, two are of particular importance: the Scripture readings proclaimed in church and the psalms and hymns sung by the assembly.

Through the Scriptures, the Word of God, the church hears anew the promise of new life. Our God, who has brought us into being, will restore us to a new and fuller life for our God “is not God of the dead but of the living” [Luke 20: 38].

Similarly, the psalms and hymns sung by the community during the funeral liturgy fill us with hope and consolation. Music has a unique ability to touch our hearts, to heal our pain, to express our sorrow and to lift up our souls.

In this brief outline we offer some thoughts on the readings suggested for the liturgy as well as some hymns and psalms which may be chosen for use during the funeral mass at Saint Peter and Saint Dominic Churches.

We hope we will be able to discuss the funeral arrangements with you in person so that together we may rightfully and prayerfully bid farewell to your beloved family member in the church.

The Order of the Mass

We hope the following outline of the Order of Christian Funerals will be of particular help to you in planning the funeral Mass for your loved ones.

The first element of the funeral rites is the Vigil or Wake service which is celebrated in the funeral home in the presence of family and friends. It is a time for the family and friends of the deceased to hear the gospel of Jesus that death is not the final word in the human story. “I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though they should die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die” [John 11:26].

During the Triduum [Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday], when Mass is not celebrated, a funeral Liturgy of the Word would take place in the church.

The Funeral Mass begins with the ministers and mourners meeting the family and the casket inside the church. There, the body of the deceased is first blessed with holy water. This is followed by the placing of the funeral pall, a large white cloth, on the casket. Both the sprinkling with water and the placing of the pall remind us of the Baptism in which the person has already died and been raised with Christ. It is certainly fitting for family members to help lay the pall on the casket. If you would care to, please inform the funeral director beforehand.

Immediately after the pall has been arranged, the priest leads the procession of family and mourners accompanying the casket to the front of the church, while all sing a hymn. In general, the music, like all liturgical music, is congregational and appropriate to the religious dimensions being celebrated in this Christian liturgy. Suggested music for the Mass of Christian Burial will be found on the back cover of this guide.

The Liturgy of the Word includes a first reading from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), a psalm, a second reading (New Testament) and the Gospel. We welcome family members or close friends to proclaim the first two readings from selections in this guide. Simply advise us of this wish in advance. Generally, it is good to select a person who has some public speaking experience.  The presiding priest will select the Gospel reading. The homily follows the Gospel which in turn is followed by the Prayers of the Faithful.

Should you wish, family members may bring the gifts [bread and wine] to the altar table. After Communion, a relative or close friend may wish to say a few brief ‘Words of Remembrance.’ This should be discussed with the parish staff in advance. At the end, the ministers accompany the casket and the mourners to the entrance of the church.

>The final station of the funeral liturgy is the Rite of Committal at the gravesite except during the winter months. The parish priest or pastoral associate accompanies the family and friends to the cemetery.

In the days, weeks and months that follow, we pledge to you our prayers, our support and sympathy. May the God of healing and consolation find a special place in your heart at this time of loss and sadness.

Once a year, in early November, our parishes gather as an expression of remembrance to hear aloud the names of the deceased in a special Mass.

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Old Testament Readings

A reading from the Book of Job ~ Job 19:1, 23-27

(I know that my Redeemer lives)

Job answered and said: “Oh, would that my words were written down! Would that they were inscribed in a record: that with an iron chisel and with lead they were cut in the rock forever!”

“But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s, shall behold him, and from my flesh I shall see God; my inmost being is consumed with longing.”

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Wisdom ~ Wisdom 3:1-9

(He accepted them as a holocaust)

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.

But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.

In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples and the LORD shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Wisdom ~ Wisdom 4:7-15

(A blameless life is a ripe old age)

The just man, though he die early, shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years. Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.

He who pleased God was loved; he who lived among sinners was transported —snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind or deceit beguile his soul; for the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind.

Having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the LORD, therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand, nor did they take this into account. Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of  the Prophet Isaiah ~ Isaiah 25:6,7-9

(The Lord God will destroy death forever)

On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces;

The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Lamentations ~ Lamentations 3:17-26

(It is good to wait in silence for the Lord God to Save)

My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; I tell myself my future is lost, all that I hoped for from the LORD. The thought of my homeless poverty is wormwood and gall; remembering it over and over leaves my soul downcast within me.

But I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: the favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the LORD says my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Good is the LORD to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the LORD.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel ~ Daniel 12:1-3

(Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake)

I, Daniel, mourned and I heard this word of the LORD: “At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book.

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Maccabees ~ 2 Maccabees 12:43-46

(It is good and holy to think of the dead rising again)

Judas [the ruler of Israel] then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death.

But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Sirach ~ Sirach 26:1-4,13-16

(The sun rising is the beauty of a good wife in a well-kept house)

Happy the husband of a good wife, twice lengthened are his days; a worthy wife brings joy to her husband, peaceful and full is his life. A good wife is a generous gift bestowed upon him who fears the Lord; be he rich or poor, his heart is content, and a smile is ever on his face.

A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones; a gift from the Lord is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth. Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person. Like the sun rising in the Lord’s heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-10

(A time for everything)

There is an appointed time for everything. And there as a time for every event under heaven –

A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing. A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away.

A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.

The Word of the Lord.

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New Testament Readings

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles ~ Acts 10:34-43

(God has appointed Jesus to judge everyone, alive and dead)

Peter proceeded to address the people in these words: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

“We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles ~ Acts 10:34-36,42-43 
Short version

(God has appointed Jesus to judge everyone, alive and dead)

Peter proceeded to address the people in these words: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans~Romans 5:5-11

(Having been justified by his blood, we will be saved from God’s anger through him)

Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans~Romans 5:17-21

(Where sin increased there grace abounded all the more)

If, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous. The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans ~ Romans 6:3-9

(Let us walk in newness of life)

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans ~ Romans 8:14-23

(We groan while we wait for the redemption of our bodies)

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility; not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans~Romans 8:31-35,37-39

(Nothing can really come between us and the love of Christ)

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? ‘Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us. Who will condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans ~ Romans 14:7-12

(Alive or dead we belong to the Lord)

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why then do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you look down on your brother or sister? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.

The Word of the Lord.

(All people will be brought to life in Christ)

Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.

The Word of the Lord.

(Death is swallowed up in victory)

Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about:

“Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of the Lord.

(What is seen is transitory; what is unseen is eternal)

We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.  
For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

The Word of the Lord.

(We have an everlasting home in heaven)

We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

The Word of the Lord.

(Jesus will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours to be like his glorious body)

Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.

The Word of the Lord.

(We shall stay with the Lord for ever)

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers [and sisters}, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy ~ 2 Timothy 2:8-13

(If we have died with him, then we shall live with him)

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy:

If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the First Letter of John ~ 1 John 3:1-2

(We shall see God as he really is)

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the First Letter of John ~ 1 John 3:14-16

(We have passed from death to life, because we love one another)

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers [and sisters]. Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that Jesus laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers [and sisters].

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Revelation ~ Revelation 14:13

(Happy are those who die in the Lord)

I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” said the Spirit, “let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them.”

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Revelation ~ Revelation 20:11 - 21:1

(The dead have been judged according to their works)

I saw a large white throne and the one who is sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

The Word of the Lord.

A reading from the Book of Revelation ~ Revelation 21:1-5,6-7

(There will be no more death)

The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. The victor will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son.”

The Word of the Lord. 

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The Music

In the funeral liturgy there are four to five opportunities for hymns: The Gathering Hymn [when we enter the church], the Hymn at the Preparation of the Gifts, the Song at Communion (sometimes a solo), the Song of Farewell and/or a Recessional Hymn. We offer the following suggestions for your consideration.

The placement of the music is usually best left to the discretion and experience of the parish music minister.

Suggested Hymns for Funerals

Amazing Grace O God our help in Ages Past
Be Not Afraid *On Eagle's Wings
Blest are They One Bread, One Body
Come to Me Prayer of Saint Francis
Gift of Finest Wheat *Shepherd Me, O God
Here I am Lord Sing With All the Saints in Glory
How Great Thou Art The Strife is O'er
I Am the Bread of Life *To You, O Lord
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say We Will Rise Again
Jerusalem My Happy Home You Are Near
Like a Shepherd You Are Mine
 

NB While Psalm 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd) is normally sung for the Responsorial Psalm, those hymns with asterisks are also appropriate.

Solos which may be requested are the Ave Maria and the Panis Angelicus

Occasionally, we receive requests for a friend or relative of the family to sing at the funeral mass. The musical demands of a Mass of Christian Burial are complex and require considerable expertise and experience to be done well. Since there is little preparation time between the time of death and the funeral, this is not always a feasible option. However, it would be better to leave this decision to the parish musician.  You may email the parish musician by clicking this link: Email Parish Musician.

We hope that these brief words and suggestions will help you in preparing with us the funeral liturgy for your dearly beloved relative.

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Diocese of Burlington

Policy Governing a Eulogy at Funerals

Only one person is allowed to give a eulogy in the Church for no longer than five minutes. The eulogy is never delivered at the time reserved for the homily. The homily which follows the reading of Gospel “is reserved to a priest or to a deacon.” (Canon 767 §1)

The eulogy is meant to be a reflection on how the individual lived out the Christian virtues and modeled the Christian faith with particular reference to his or her membership in the Roman Catholic Church.

Policy Governing the use the American Flag

The flag may cover the coffin of a veteran when the coffin is brought to the Church. At the beginning of the liturgy a white pall, reminiscent of the baptismal garment, is placed over the coffin. This symbol of the baptismal status of the deceased remains on the coffin throughout the liturgy. It is removed at the end of the service and the flag is replaced for the cemetery rites.

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